From passionate politicians to brave sexual assault survivors, here are the women who changed our culture’s conversation.
Legislatively speaking, 2014 has been anything but the year of the woman. Yet it’s during times of adversity women emerge ever stronger. These 11-plus women changed the conversation this year; some of them even started it. Whether they did it from the Supreme Court bench, like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or from the memorial for fallen NYPD officers as Eric Garner’s daughter Emerald did, or from the streets, like the thousands of people we don’t have room to list who have been protesting the deaths of unarmed Black men at the hands of police all over the country, these are the women making waves—waves that will roll for many years to come.
The surviving daughter of Eric Garner—one of over 40 unarmed people killed by cops in 2014—Emerald Garner had the courtesy to pay her respects to the NYPD officer fatally shot by Ismaayil Binsley. Courtesy. Respect. Two things police are supposed to do for all citizens of the city, per their motto, and have done anything but for the peaceful protesters who’ve been grieving not just for her father, but for all the men, women, and children across the nation, whose lives were lost because of them this year.
The Nation columnist and author of Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights skillfully reframes the pro-choice conversation, recasting it as a family planning issue. As Katha Pollitt writes in Pro, “We tend to think of abortion as anti-child and anti-motherhood … We need to put abortion back into context, which is the lives and bodies of women, but also the lives of men, and families, and the children those women already have or will have.”
After decades of suffering in silence, the women Bill Cosby is accused of drugging and assaulting are finally being heard. We are in awe of their courage and their strength—especially since they’re speaking out in the face of aggressive and defamatory strategies by Cosby’s legal team—as well as all of the brave women who have summoned the strength to come forward with their stories in a world that is quick to dismiss them.
In a legislatively dismal year for ladies, the Notorious R.B.G. was a women’s rights rock; her scathing dissent of the Supreme Court’s asinine Hobby Lobby decision was just one of the many reasons we were reminded of how much we need her and her sharp-worded wit.
This year Roxane Gay blew the lid off feminist discourse, smartly weighing in on 2014’s fraught topics from Woody Allen and Bill Cosby, to the nude celebrity photo leak and Ferguson—a wonderful reminder that the best feminists are always bad feminists.
The Massachusetts senator is a progressive spitfire, bringing passion back to an apathetic Congress whether she’s fighting against big banks and Wall Street fat cats or the FDA’s discriminatory blood donation policies for gay and bisexual men.
The seasoned TV writer and showrunner of such series as Six Feet Under and United States of Tara finally went out on her own to create Transparent, one of the most poignant, fiercely honest family dramas on any screen in recent memory, about a Jewish family in L.A., each one of them struggling with a life transition, not least of whom, the father, a retired political-science professor who comes out as a transwoman.
Maryam Mirzahakhan, a Stanford mathematician who was the first woman to win the Fields medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics, debunking the sexist myth that the academic discipline is not “for girls”—ha!
Between Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder, Ms. Rhimes owns prime time, shining a desperately needed spotlight on women of color in the process.
All we’ve wanted for Christmas since 2005 was Sleater-Kinney to reunite and this year we finally got our wish. The grown-up riot grrrls are gracing us with a new album next month, and a tour, a bombastic treat we never thought we’d get.
On January 18, Sasheer Zamata became the first Black woman on SNL’s cast since Maya Rudolph left the show in 2007. This season, writer Leslie Jones was promoted from the writers room to featured player, as well, and Michael Che to the news desk, making this the sketch show’s most diverse cast in its nearly 40-year history.
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